Posts Tagged teen drug abuse
If you really want to know how substance abuse could impact a person’s life, just listen to those who have actually struggled with addiction at one point in their lives. Not only will you get a solid idea about drug addiction, you will also realize why it’s better to never try drugs in the first place.
“I wanted to be cool. I was so cool that I threw up all over myself,” said “Donald,” whose real name was withheld in The Santa Fe New Mexican report. “My life went way downhill.”
Donald was one of the three drug addicts who spoke before a crowd of over 600 teens during the Drug & Alcohol education program at St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe, NM. Now in his mid-50s, he recalled his introduction to alcohol in seventh grade and marijuana smoking in ninth grade. As adult he began using cocaine and then crack cocaine.
The other former drug addict speaking during the forum was Mark Romero who said alcohol first nabbed him when he was a teenager. “I didn’t have control,” he said. “I was a puppet. The alcohol was controlling me.” He is now in his mid-30s and has been clean and sober for three years.
Both Donald and Romero attended St. Michael’s High School. They spoke in relatively subdued, somber tones of the downward slide their lives took once they became hooked.
Donald was having the life many people would have wanted. He was a millionaire at 38 but he started neglecting his family, eventually becoming broke because of substance abuse. A year or so later, he underwent drug rehabilitation. He has been clean since 2004. He advised the attentive teenagers to communicate with their parents. “We were your age once,” he said. “We’re not stupid.” He added that if a teen tells his or her parents that he or she is addicted “Your parents are gonna get mad — but they won’t love you any less.” And their love, he said, could save a life.
The Drug & Alcohol education program was organized by the school’s Student Wellness Action Team (SWAT) for the students “to see what not to do” when it comes to substance abuse.
Early this year, the school announced that it would start random drug testing of students. According to principal Sam Govea and president Marcia Sullivan, the goal of the drug test is to educate kids and hopefully discourage substance abuse.
Wright State University released the result of its 2012 Dayton Area Drug Survey (DADS) which shows that alcohol and marijuana are the top two widely abused drugs among Dayton teens.
The survey, conducted every two years, had been participated by 15,734 students from 7th to 12th grade in sixteen Miami Valley area school districts. According to the results, alcohol is the most commonly abused drug among the respondents, followed by marijuana.
Of the more than 3,000 surveyed students, 67 percent said they drank alcohol at least once. However, the survey also demonstrated a decline in alcohol consumption by 12th graders from 55 percent in 2010 to 50 percent in 2012.
Marijuana ranks second as the most widely used drug by high school-aged students, surpassing tobacco cigarettes. The percentage of 12th graders who reported daily use of marijuana, defined as having used a drug 20 or more times in the 30 days before the survey, increased from 6.3 percent in 2010 to 6.9 percent in 2012. The percentage of 12th graders admitted used of marijuana at least once in their lifetime was virtually unchanged from two years ago (44.1%) to the present time (43.9%).
Tobacco cigarettes came third as the most widely used drug, though lifetime prevalence in 12th graders significantly dropped from 41.6% in 2010 to 37.1% in 2012.
The survey also reveals that among 12th graders, there has been a noticeable decrease in the lifetime prevalence of use of smokeless tobacco, non-prescribed prescription opioids and tranquilizers, heroin, Ritalin, over-the-counter stay awake/weight loss agents, inhalants and nitrous oxide, cocaine HCl and dextromethorphan (DXM).
The DADS is a collaborative effort between the Center for Interventions, Treatment & Addictions Research at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine and area school districts. First administered in the 1990s, DADS is a biennial, cross-sectional study that provides estimates of non-medical drug use by school-aged teenagers in the Dayton, Ohio, area.
Prescription drug abuse among teens has climbed to an alarming rate. This fact has gotten health experts and law enforcement authorities worried as more and more kids are falling victims to the problem.
For Greenburgh Drug and Alcohol Task Force member and Irvington police officer Detective Kevin Johnson, the problem is so rampant that recorded violations against drugs and alcohol possession by teens and young adults has increased over the years; they have even caught kids with anti-anxiety medications and painkillers that should only be given to legitimate patients.
“It’s a huge problem, especially in these affluent towns,” Detective Johnson said. “We’re seeing it a lot more than before, and it seems as if parents don’t care about it nearly as much as having their kids do illegal drugs.”
Even pharmacists are also alarmed due to the massive amount of painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, and sleeping tabs that have been dispensed since the country fell into recession in 2008.
Yet the problem of prescription drug abuse is still taken for granted by most people. The proof is best illustrated when the Dobbs Fery PTSA organized a forum last May and despite inviting substance abuse counselors and youth officers, only a few parents attended which was a big disappointment for the organizers.
Detective Johnson explains the probable reason why the expected turnout of parents was not reached during the event. Parents usually become the source of these prescription medications which often end up misused by their kids.
“I think parents are, for the most part, turning a blind eye to it and thinking ‘It couldn’t be my kid doing this,'” Johnson said. “But I think many would be surprised. I think it will take a death from overdose or mixing with alcohol or a kid driving off the road from taking these drugs that will have to be the wake-up call. It’s a sad reality.”
During a workshop held at the Ionia County Intermediate School District, the issue of teen substance abuse was discussed. Experts said that 90% of adult drug addicts started their drug use in their teenage years.
There were about 70 attendees composed of parents and professionals from schools, hospitals, courts and treatment facilities, and law enforcement. The forum was entitled “Emerging Drug Trends in 2012” with executive director for BASES Teen Center in Charlevoix, Scott Kelly, as the resource person. The program was organized by the County Health Department and the Ionia County Substance Abuse Initiative.
Kelly said parents still hold the biggest influence when it comes to teen substance abuse. For instance, if parents allow their children to drink even at home, these kids will abuse alcohol up to three times more than kids whose parents restrict alcohol in any form inside or outside their homes.
“When parents open the door to some use, by saying it’s okay on special occasions or it’s okay at home; then kids think it’s okay in Johnny’s basement, it’s okay in the car. It’s important that parents say no,” Kelly said.
Parents were also informed about the greater risks that high school athletes may have when it comes to drugs and alcohol use. Athletes are often more pressured to excel in their field and expectations can be quite high that at times, they (athletes) turn to alcohol and drugs as their coping mechanisms.
It was made clear that teen substance abuse is a problem that should involve everybody’s efforts to solve. Probation officer for the Ionia County Juvenile Court Amy Buckingham also encouraged the whole community to join in the cause against substance abuse. “It isn’t just one drug or one age or one income group so that we can say, ‘It doesn’t affect me.’ This information is helping us to see that addictions affect all of us,” Buckingham said.
A study conducted by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests that more teens begin their alcohol and drug activities during the summer season. In fact, first-time use of cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs by kids peak during the months of June and July.
Researchers noted that the number of adolescents that get entangled with these substances for the first time in their young lives are significantly higher compared to other months of the year. It’s only during the month of December that the same trend can be observed.
SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde says that the huge amount of free time in the summer can make kids vulnerable to substance abuse. “More free time and less adult supervision can make the summertime an exciting time for many young people, but it can also increase the likelihood of exposure to the dangers of substance abuse.”
Results of the study were obtained by analyzing data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the year 2002 up to 2010. Students 12 to 17 years old were given survey questions with regards to their alcohol, drugs, and tobacco activities.
After gathering information from the respondents, it was found out that the number of teenagers’ first time cigarette use reach 5,000 on the average during any given day in the months of June and July. Other months only reach an average of 3,000 to 4,000.
Marijuana use is also much higher for beginners during the summer with a daily average of 4,800 while inhalant misuse and abuse is being done by about 1,500 kids daily. If it were during the other months of the year, these figures only peak by 4,000 and 1,100, respectively.
Hyde once again emphasizes the importance of communication between parents and children especially on substance abuse issues. “That is why it is critically important to take every opportunity we can throughout the year to talk to our young people about the real risks of substance abuse and effective measures for avoiding it.”
Study author Michael Cleveland from the Penn State University said that while teens are learning to choose their set of friends, parents should not be far behind in making sure that their kids’ friends also have responsible parents. There is a relationship between a teen and the behavior and attitude of his friends’ parents.
“Among friendship groups with ‘good parents’ there’s a synergistic effect — if your parents are consistent and aware of your whereabouts, and your friends’ parents are also consistent and aware of their (children’s) whereabouts, then you are less likely to use substances,” Cleveland said.
Children with parents who refuse to deal with the issue of substance abuse and at the same time belonging in a circle with friends under the same condition will more likely to go the wrong way.
The study was done with about 9,000 students from rural school districts in the 9th grade. The research team were able to identify almost 900 groups from the participants classified as to who their friends are and the parents of their chosen peers. After a year, the groups were surveyed and allowed to answer questions on alcohol, cigarette and marijuana use.
It was found out that teens with parents who regularly check on them and know their activities were less likely to get involved in drugs or alcohol use. Yet having friends with parents that are not aware of their kids’ whereabouts and activities significantly influenced the teen’s decision on the said issues despite having “good parents.”
The complete results of the study can be found in the latest issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.